CX and Your Website: It’s Not about You

CX and Your Website: It’s Not about You

Are you familiar with the term customer experience (CX)? Not just for app developers or folks operating on the fringes of innovation, CX is a pervasive value system that will affect your company’s success. So what exactly is CX? I like Forrester’s definition for its simplicity:

“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Anytime you interact with a customer, whether it is online, in-person or over the phone, you are engaging in forming customer experience—good, bad or ugly. Most of us, apparently, feel that we’re doing a good job—only we’re not. According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree.

How do companies bring those two numbers closer together? When it comes to your first chances to nurture positive CX — your website and social media profiles — it’s important to set your brand ego aside. Think about this…

“There are only 86,400 seconds in a day. Given that we are universally bound by this limited resource, how can we make things easier, quicker and simpler for our customers?”

This question, posed by MGM Resorts International’s chief experience officer, Julie Hoffmann, at the American Marketing Association’s National Conference in September, is one that you should ask regularly.

In addition, here are two exercises you can do today to positively impact the online customer experience you provide.

Exercise 1: How would you describe your company or product to a 10-year-old?

Now look at your website. Without scrolling, does it answer this question in under eight seconds?

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a recent study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds.

If a first-time visitor sees only your clever brand tagline, then it’s time to make one critical change on your home page. Add a succinct single line message that explains your value proposition. A quick web search turned up these examples of effective home page value messages:

  • The easy, fast, affordable way to send money online—from your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  • Comprehensive, easy-to-use cloud-based law practice management software.
  • Software for automated sales tax compliance. “Sales tax is hard. We make it easy.”

That value message will help a visitor confirm their interest in your product or service. Make sure this simple description also lives on your social media profiles.

Within the first eight seconds, visitors should also see one or more simple, low-risk ways to engage with you. An opt-in subscription form, download offer or free trial may extend the visit well beyond eight seconds.

Exercise 2: What are the top five questions your prospective customers ask you?

You are sitting on the most valuable insights money can buy—actual customer interactions. Ask your sales team to account for the questions they continually get asked by prospects at the beginning of the relationship. Do you address these questions on your website’s most important pages? How many pages and links does it take to get the answers? Your customers are coming to your website to figure out if you provide a solution for their pesky, nagging pain point. Is there a way to provide relief in fewer interactions?

Sometimes, particularly with B2B, we get caught up in trying to deliver so much information that the most customer-relevant part gets lost or left out. You don’t need a new website to make real strides in your CX. Real improvements can result from simply creating headlines and separating blocks of copy and important callouts with more white space.

Your brand is not just a tagline, a collection of bright colors and a logo. Ultimately, your true brand is your customers’ experience of your company over the duration of their relationship with you. Your website is a prominent part of that, so start your CX initiative there.

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on The Edge Room.

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About the Author

Kim Tidwell, Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy & Development and Social Media Management ConsultantKim Tidwell is a storyteller and creative marketer, with a consultancy focused on content strategy and inbound marketing.

An avid community-builder, she splits her time between Austin AMA and CreativeMornings/Austin.

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Related Topics on the AMA Austin Blog:

Cuvee Coffee: An Evolution from Product to Brand

Cuvée Coffee: An Evolution from Product to Brand

Earlier this month, Cuvée’s Mike McKim invited registrants from April’s Luncheon along with Austin AMA volunteers to his East Austin shop for a redux to hear the Cuvée brand story over complimentary local coffee and beer. Thanks to Mike and his staff for a wonderful evening! Here are some of our favorite takeaways.

A quality product.

Mike is a humble realist – he recognizes the work he has put into his extremely successful business, but he won’t shy away from the mistakes he made in the early days of Cuvée. Mike honestly admits that in the beginning, he did not recognize the importance of “a brand”, and instead focused all his energy on his product because he believed that a great product sells itself. And in the beginning, that philosophy worked. However, if that great product was going to go the distance, Cuvée needed a brand and story to sustain it.

An idea. Then, an ‘aha’!

When you think of coffee on the store shelf, you usually imagine earth-toned bags, right? A sea of brown is precisely what Mike found when he excitedly went to Whole Foods to see his first product on the shelf. Cuvée’s packaging looked like every other brand, so much so that Mike couldn’t find it. So when Mike’s wife suggested selling their beans in blue bags as a way to differentiate Cuvée, Mike didn’t shy away from the revolutionary idea. The blue bags jumped off shelves. Over the next 90 days after changing the brand’s colors, Cuvée saw a 300% increase in sales. The blue became the catalyst for their brand story…

Serious Coffee Doesn't Have to Take Itself So Seriously - We Believe in Liberating Specialty Coffee

“Transcend coffee…. find inspiration outside your industry.”

A set of steadfast company values.

Cuvée’s blue bag test made Mike realize that great branding + a great product can go the distance. Mike decided to formalize the company values swirling around in his head. These five values inform and frame everything they do:

Consistent Quality, Local Love, Authentic Relationships, Insatiable Ingenuity, Come As You Are

“As an entrepreneur, you should move away from saying, ‘Listen to me because I’m an expert”, towards “Let me listen to you…’”

The brand is alive.

Cuvee CoffeeWhat has kept Cuvée so successful? Mike says that today, he likes to think of the brand as a “living entity.” He makes sure to ask himself the questions that will keep his company on the right path: What’s important? What do we believe in? Who are we here for? How do we behave? What do we stand for? Every single one of those questions is one you should be able to answer, whether for your personal brand or for your business.

If you haven’t experienced Cuvee, check out their coffee bar at 2000 E 6th Street, or visit

Follow Cuvee on Facebook to find out about registration for their upcoming roastery tour on July 17th.

**Mike McKim and Austin AMA sends our sincerest apologies to the registrants of the April Luncheon for the scheduling mix-up. If you were unable to attend the June 4th event at Cuvée, we hope to make it up to you soon!

Images: courtesy of Cuvée Coffee

Becoming Social from the Inside Out

andrew-dixonMost companies see social business as social media: curating your Twitter account and conversations. But how do you create business value and meaningful change within your business based on your customers insights?

On March 4th, I had the opportunity to get together with members of the American Marketing Association in Austin. The casual ‘happy hour’ setting, hosted at a great restaurant called Coal Vines, was a great chance to network and catch up on the news for the month.

The AMA asked me to discuss a topic with their members. I presented a case study, The Key to Social Media Responsiveness: Social Business. It was about the evolution of social strategy within companies. More specifically, it was about how to move beyond social media monitoring and become a social business – enabling you to become responsive to the marketplace across your whole organization, not just your teams on Twitter.

Social strategy today is externally-focused.

Most customers have spent the past two or three years installing listening systems to do basic sentiment analysis – they want to understand what the market is saying about their brand, product, or service. Companies are monitoring their social accounts, and interacting with customers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn (and that’s just within North America). For the more sophisticated organization, listening platforms like Radian 6 or HootSuite are used to aggregate and measure conversations from a number of different places. Some companies are going beyond just listening and are actively participating in the conversations, or are using social media proactively as a means of building meaningful customer relationships.

However, few companies are prepared to capitalize on all of those rich external insights because it requires the company to react quickly and appropriately, and to work together internally. For example, just because your company’s services department becomes aware of a product issue bubbling up across your social support accounts, doesn’t mean they are able to mobilize the marketing, development, or senior management teams for a unified and rapid response. In fact, the newfound sophistication in learning about what the market is saying is often wasted, since the ability to act on it internally continues to lag.

Old workplace systems

Think about how you would handle social media opportunity in your personal life: the communication and collaboration tools you use at home to stay connected with your friends and family are far more powerful than those you have at work. You can follow people, get notified when someone has news, keep updated with activity feeds, @mention your friends to loop them into a conversation, etc. Enterprise tools have not kept pace with the way people like to connect together and stay current, and usage of those older tools is suffering.

Let’s take the most common enterprise collaboration tool in place today: email. Email was never designed for open collaboration, and as a result it fails miserably. Trying to rise above a mounting list of unread messages and filtering which CC: messages you should read is challenging enough, let alone trying to use file attachments to do live document collaboration. Email is fraught with issues that I don’t need to explain.

So what about your company’s corporate intranet? Intranets have served the purpose of being a repository of corporate policies and procedures, but they have fallen short of being a dynamic two-way collaboration platform. They are mainly corporate-controlled, and therefore require experts to publish content, meaning few authors and stale content. Historically, intranets have become a place where documents go to die.

That’s the opposite of how people expect to work in an age of instant, social collaboration.

Bring your own _____ and rise of the cloud app

As a result of this, many workers have taken matters into their own hands, bringing purpose-built, lightweight cloud apps into the business to solve short-term problems. USB keys have been replaced by Dropbox for the sync and transfer of files; Yammer is used to share a quick thought; WordPress to broadcast a blog – the list goes on. While these tools are simple, elegant, and effective independently, they are far from a complete solution. They are not securely designed for business use, they don’t work together, or they don’t integrate with your other systems. For these and other reasons, these consumer grade tools drive your IT departments out of their minds.

But more importantly: these apps only solve one problem, in one department or team. You don’t need more silos; you need a way to bridge the gap between your customers and your internal conversations, workflows, and content.

Becoming a social business

If you want to react quickly and efficiently to what’s going on in the marketplace, your business requires a new generation of tools to be adopted internally. We could use email when it makes sense – as a notification engine to let you know something has changed, or as a tool to quickly create content that’s syndicated to an audience in your corporate intranet. You should be leveraging the structure of your corporate intranet to organize your company’s information, and employ easy to use cloud apps for collaboration in a secure, integrated way. At Igloo, we affectionately refer to our platform as “an intranet you’ll actually like”. We often either replace or augment existing systems like Microsoft SharePoint or a home-grown solution, or even just basic email. We know that to be a social business you need social tools in an easy to use environment that empowers your teams to do their best work – together – without giving up control, structure, and security.

You don’t know until you try

Understanding how a collaborative Intranet can help your business requires that you try it. That’s why we’ve designed a few ways for you to get started, depending on what’s right for your business.

Sign up today and get instant access to an app-based Igloo that’s free to use with up to 10 people, enough to see how your teams will use our apps (blogs, shared calendars, files, forums, microblogs, profiles, and wikis) to communicate better.

We also offer a 30-day trial with unlimited users to test-run with your whole company, and custom proof-of-concept demos branded, architected, and configured to prove how Igloo can solve your business problems. We’ll have you up and running in days, not weeks or months.

Presentation – AMA Happy Hour Austin 03-04-2014


Chasing Millennials : Let’s Not Get Left in the Dust

By Yuliya Velmushkyna

Photo by Austin Photographer, Matthew LemkeThough I can’t speak on behalf of Millennials (Generation Y) representing almost 25% of the population, I respect them for having enormous enthusiasm, following their dreams of achieving financial independence, and doing what they love. This generation is responsible for driving new trends (Mobile, Apps, Games) and overcoming great challenges in the current job market despite paying huge student loans.  Millennials pursue financial independence, opportunities for flexibility, and the realization of work-life balance. Yes, they want a great career and money, but it’s all about learning new skills, taking initiatives, sharing with others, and becoming competent enough to gain the trust of others.

A common stereotype of Millennials is that they are slightly unfocused because they’re always keeping their eyes open for the next big thing. They may be unpredictable, are usually very self-aware and independent in their thinking, and might have short attention spans.  Generation Y looks for adventure, craves exploration and creativity, and is dissatisfied with the status quo.  David Tenorio, a 26-year old digital illustrator in Austin, said that “In order to deal with a less reliable economy and government, this generation instead relies on its peers and the information they generate personally”. Millennials excel in social media because they articulate their points of view beautifully and have mastered the ability to create connections through communication via mobile, texting, and videos.

How can marketers be creative in capturing the goals of Millennials in their plans and attracting this generation to your brands? This brings a unique opportunity to our world where we have the ability to market to a group of potential or current Millennials customers that are spending money! If you want them, you must be technologically relevant and engaging them in conversation at a fast speed.

Millennials are those born between the years of 1979 and the early 2000s. Who they are? They are a tech-savvy generation who use Snapchat, Waze, Vine, and Instagram every day. They absorb volumes of relevant information constantly at the speed of light. They are early adapters and quickly shift their attention to competing products. They are very much immersed in technology, prefer to shop online, detest corporate structure, and are fed up with being on hold at helpdesks.  I watched an interview with the CEO of Best Buy who believes that consumers come to his store for the “customer experience”. But he overlooked that Generation Y driving the Smartphone and Tablet market are avid individuals who don’t purchase overpriced electronics in stores. They have mobile apps that scan prices and compare everything to Amazon website where they usually spend their money.  The CEO argued that store experience, installations, and warranties distinguish his brand from competitors, but he failed to notice that Millennials are smart enough to tinker with their own electronics.

How does Generation Y want to do business? Due to their search for the best deal, the most efficient service, and the simplest process, this crowd may not be completely loyal to one particular brand. Why would you use old-school practices when there are many self-service options on popular Social Media networks? Brands should stay relevant by fine-tuning websites and streamlining online services so that they can more competently reach and keep Generation Y. The end goal is to build trust and show adaptability to modern practices.

As someone understands the need to remain relevant in ever-changing spheres of social media and Digital Marketing, I regularly try to grasp changing world because of Millennials. I was thrilled with the new release of Instagram’s 15-second video and failed to remain loyal to yesterday’s Vine video service with its short 6-second span. I am just beginning to understand that Generation Y drives the majority of current innovations through Apps, games, SM channels and digital conversations. You say that Facebook violates your privacy and you stay away from it. But you are losing Millennials customers because they are there all the time – searching, reading, posting, liking, and buying. But not from you! If you are not aggressively targeting Gen Y’ers, you will fail to promote your product to their world through social influence: family, coworkers, friends and their friends. They have special skills to mobilize their networks. It’s a marketing spiral that will continue to draw in revenue if you do it right. Embrace Social Media, use apps and games, offer free services, be genuine, become more open, and respond in real time. It’s essential for brands to create widespread content, engage with Millennials, and exchange free services for valuable information about the customers’ habits and preferences to retain this new generation.

How can you prevent your company from slowing down while staying in the race after Millennials at full speed? To ensure future success, engage in immediate conversation. Don’t wait another minute. Don’t try to be perfect; Millennials care about transparency and acting in the moment. Find where they spend time online and go there, whether on Social Media or mobile apps. Be everywhere and invest in visual media to attract attention of this generation. Don’t be afraid to jump into the statistics of ROI and real-time data. Be sure to modify your content according to their habits and preferences. In order to keep up with Millennials, put on your running shoes and chase after them with full respect of the amazing ways they are changing our marketing practices. Let’s not get left in the dust!

Do you want to learn how you can engage with Millennials on a more personal level by creating content that they want to read and share? Brett Jewkes, VP and CCO for NASCAR, and Dennis Devlin, CEO of Consumer Clarity, will present case studies showing how their brands are digging in with this demographic to make an impact. Register for the AMA Austin Signature event on June 27th “Is Your Brand Millennial Ready?” at the Marketing Jam.

Luncheon Recap: Effective Utilization of Mobile Marketing

The topic of our July Power Luncheon posed the question, “Why mobile?” And luckily for those who attended the event, Marcus Turner, Chief Technology Officer at Atomic Axis, and his guest Lauren Davis, founder and Principal at Alkali Marketing, were both ready and capable to inform the masses. Equipped with hard facts, knowledge of current trends and industry practices, as well as a concise list of to-dos, Mr. Turner spoke with an engaging enthusiasm about the potential that lay ahead for mobile marketers.

The presentation began with a proposed image of the typical American family, living under one roof, yet each person in their own world, clutching tightly their mobile device out of fear they might miss an email or a Facebook update. Our speaker was not necessarily making a comment on contemporary society but rather pointing out certain facts that every marketer should be well aware of. Facts like, “Today there are approximately 7 billion people on earth, 5.1 billion mobile devices and 4.2 billion toothbrushes.” This fact is quite interesting when you compare the last two numbers. He also quoted from research that “91% of smart phone users have their device within arm’s reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” That being said, there seems to be little reason to doubt the emerging potential of mobile marketing.

So (as a refresher) what is mobile marketing? Well, our speaker defined the term as “the use of mobile technology for promotional purposes.” Very general, I agree, but that was the purpose of the definition. Mobile marketing covers a broad spectrum of promotional activities that take place through mobile devices. For example: voicemails, emails, SMS, MMS, URLs, mobile apps, and most recently location-based services such as QR codes and Apple’s new Passbook app coming this fall. Without going too far into the advantages and disadvantages of each, our speaker did feel that there is significant potential for return on investment with location-based promotion. There will most assuredly be a pushback on the invasion-of-privacy issue, and as if already opposing the hypothetical argument, he stated:

“I walked into a McDonalds the other day and my phone gave me a coupon code for a hamburger. I got excited!”

That is to say most cutting-edge promotional practices can become controversial, depending on their level on intrusiveness, but then as time passes people simply grow accustomed to them; for example, re-targeting banner ads.

Also, it is very important to not only know your market, but to also know what you market’s mobile technology is capable of. Our speaker gave the example of BMW’s recent MMS campaign that yielded an impressive “30% conversion rate.” Knowing that the majority of their target market owned smart phones and were not the penny-pinching type worried about data usage, BMW sent out videos to their potential client’s phones hoping to showcase their product in a way that text just could not capture. BMW said it was “the most successful promotional campaign of their past five years.” The takeaway it seems is that with every advance in technology, you must be able to tailor-fit its application to meet your specific market’s behavior/needs.

And what would a luncheon recap be without the to-do list? Well, according to Mr. Turner there are six things that you, the marketer, should consider doing if you plan to take advantage of the opportunities within the mobile marketing landscape:

  1. Develop a Mobile Marketing Strategy
  2. Align Yourself with a Mobile Partner
  3. Embrace the Power of Social Media
  4. Use Mobile Analytics to Your Advantage
  5. Research Emerging Technologies & Trends
  6. And finally, Become a Mobile Marketing Guru

I would like to personally thank Marcus Turner and Lauren Davis for their time, as well as everyone who made it out to the Austin AMA July Luncheon. See you next month!

Travelocity Jams with Austin AMA


On May 17, Travelocity CMO Brad Wilson will join Austin AMA for Marketing Jam 2012. A pioneer in the online travel reservation market, Travelocity was the first company to allow customers the opportunity to book flights via the world wide web. Today, the company continues to be a top destination for online travel reservations, using a variety of elements into its marketing mix. Find out how Travelocity stays ahead by anticipating customer needs and using mobile, location and social marketing to foster big results.

Join Austin AMA on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30PM at Cool River Cafe. Members $30; non-members $40. Register at Afterward, jam out with your marketing friends over drinks while our DJ spins the tunes.